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AARP to Track Senate Vote on Medicare Rx Bargaining Bill

Vote Results will be released to AARP’s 38 Million Members


Contact: AARP Media Relations, 202-434-2560,

Today, AARP will be sending the following letter from CEO Bill Novelli to every member of the U.S. Senate alerting them that the association will be recording the upcoming Senate vote on a bill to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

According to exit polls, roughly 1 out of every 4 voters in the past election was a member of AARP. “Nearly 90 percent of voting-age Americans believes Medicare should have the power to bargain for lower drug prices. The American people need and deserve to know where their Senators stand on this widely supported issue,” said AARP CEO Bill Novelli.

Following is the text of the letter sent by Novelli to Congress:

April 13, 2007

Dear Senator:

On behalf of AARP’s over 38 million members, we urge you to support S. 3, the Medicare Fair Prescription Drug Price Act of 2007. This legislation will build upon the strong foundation of the Medicare prescription drug law by enabling the Secretary of HHS to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries, increasing transparency, and encouraging greater use of evidence based medicine. Enactment of this legislation is another important step toward further lowering drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.

Since the implementation of the Medicare Part D program—which AARP strongly supports—tens of millions of Medicare beneficiaries have had access to more affordable prescription drugs. AARP believes we must use all tools to restrain soaring drug prices to ensure continued affordability of the program to both Medicare beneficiaries and all taxpayers. One way to do that is to further strengthen the negotiations that individual plans undertake with drug manufacturers by enabling the Secretary to negotiate on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. This issue enjoys widespread public support, as demonstrated by a recent AARP poll showing 86 percent of individuals—across all political parties—support legislation enabling the Secretary to negotiate on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. Such negotiating authority will be particularly useful in those cases—such as the six protected categories and classes of drugs—for which plans must cover all or most drugs within the therapeutic class, and other areas for which there is limited competition.

The legislation gives Medicare the negotiating leverage granted to private purchasers of prescription drugs by repealing the noninterference language, while at the same time continuing the prohibition against the Secretary requiring a particular formulary. This preserves the competitive nature of the drug benefit and allows private plans to design formularies that best meet the needs of their enrollees. In addition, the legislation would allow Congressional support agencies access to Part D pricing and claims data to ensure better comparative analysis of the discounts and price concessions available to Medicare. Finally, the legislation would encourage plans’ own pharmacy and therapeutic committees to use comparative effectiveness information when designing plan formularies.

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